The story of the GSDC began when the Great Southern Development Authority (GSDA) was established by the State Government of Western Australia in October 1986. The authority operated as a division of the Department of Regional Development and the North West until 1 July 1987 when it became a statutory authority under the Great Southern Development Authority Act (1987).
Membership of the Board was announced on 30 September 1986. The original Board comprised Chairperson Brian Bradley, Deputy Chairperson Ross Anderson and members June Hodgson, Josephine Lynch, Betty Pearse and John Plewright.
The original Board also included inaugural GSDA director Michael Jones, who was appointed on the formation of the authority in 1987 and left in March 1989.
Brian Bradley’s term as Chairperson ended in 1990 and Ross Anderson was appointed to the position.
After the end of Michael Jones’ term as director of the GSDA, the position was filled by Richard Grounds from 1989 to 1991 and Bruce Sutherland from 1991 to 1993.
On 8 April 1994, the organisation became the Great Southern Development Commission under the Regional Development Commissions Act.
As the GSDC, the agency has had five Chairpersons:
- John Simpson (1994-2000)
- Bruce Sutherland (2000-2003)
- Russell Harrison (2003-2009)
- Peter Rundle (2009-2016)
- Ross Thornton (incumbent)
In that time, the agency has been led by Chief Executive Officers Peter Cook (1994-2000) and Bruce Manning (2000 to present).
Activities of the organisation, both as GSDA and GSDC, have focused on the economic development of the Great Southern region. At its formation in 1986, the agency initiated a focus on the development of the Albany Waterfront, which proved to be a long-term process. In 2010, the processes initiated decades before delivered one of the agency’s greatest achievements, the Albany Entertainment Centre.
Further achievements include the establishment of the UWA Albany Centre and the Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management, as well as a host of initiatives promoting economic growth and improving social amenity in the Great Southern.